- The First Set makes it to the site with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- Three-dimensional space and ambience, with Tubey Magic by the boatload – this is guaranteed to be one of the better sounding live jazz records you’ve heard
- Rudy Van Gelder was masterful at this is the kind of spacious, low-distortion, dynamic, energetic sound
- “Griffin and Davis, competitive tenors with different sounds, battle each other… Exciting music that deserves to be made more widely available.” [And here is a wonderful copy ripe for the taking.]
This vintage Prestige pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What the best sides of Live At Minton’s – The First Set have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1961
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.
Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.
Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.
What We’re Listening For on Live at Minton’s – The First Set
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
- Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt —Rudy Van Gelder in this case — would have put them.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Johnny Griffin – tenor saxophone
Junior Mance – piano
Larry Gales – bass
Ben Riley – drums
Well, You Needn’t
I’ll Remember April
During the night of July 6, 1961, the two-tenor quintet co-led by Johnny Griffin and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis recorded enough material to fill up four LPs; surprisingly, Fantasy has not yet reissued any of the sets in their Original Jazz Classics series.
Two of the albums (The Tenor Scene and The Midnight Show) were last available on a two-LP set. Griffin and Davis, competitive tenors with different sounds, battle each other on ten selections with the assistance of pianist Junior Mance, bassist Larry Gales and drummer Ben Riley…
Exciting music that deserves to be made more widely available.
One of the lost jewels of the bebop era, this masterpiece features the bossest tenors in the business, plus blues-drenched Junior Mance at the keyboard, for a dazzling live set so full of passion you can hardly stay in your seat. Both tenors were at the top of their form, never better than when they were together, drawing out the fire in each other, not so much in competition as in mutual respect. Griffin is a technician advanced as Coltrane or Rollins in his melodic agility. Lockjaw Davis has, well, the jaws. His embrochure and tone are only rivalled by Ben Webster: but while Ben is the poet, Lockjaw is the virtuoso. Together, Lockjaw and Grif burn brighter than any tenor tandem in bebop, and that includes the bosses, Stitt and Ammons.
This tenor tandem recorded at least ten albums together. Noteworthy is their selection of tunes. While most tenor duos jammed on simple riffs, these two chose the complex melodies and harmonics of Thelonious Monk. This music is both emotional and intellectually challenging. The crowd at Minton’s that night was really into the music, and their backround presence on the recording only makes the music more gritty, more real. And you are right there! This quintet ought to be rediscovered NOW!